Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
Friday, April 28, 2023
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
As we follow our Lord on His path to Golgotha, to the Sanhedrin, and to His voluntary death upon the Cross, we dare not lose connection with the words of the hymnology we offer as we traverse these days.
We know of the treachery of Judas, and we hear in the words of the Bridegroom Matins of this fact.
"Judas loves money with his mind. The impious one moves against the Master. He wills and plans the betrayal. Receiving darkness, he falls from the Light. He agrees to the price and sells the Priceless One. As payment for his deeds the wretch gains hanging and a terrible death. From his lot deliver us, O Christ God, granting remission of sins to those who celebrate Your immaculate Passion with love." (Kathisma for Holy Tuesday)
But Judas is not the only evil-doer. Inside the Gospel for Bridegroom Matins for Holy Tuesday, the Lord calls the scribes and Pharisees "hypocrites" on no less than nine occassions (Mat 22:15-46; 23:1-39), and once He calls them a "brood of vipers." The Lord is not exactly attempting to 'make friends' amongst those who have shown themselves as evil-doers.
But what of that charge of the "lawless assembly"? From the service of the 12 Passion Gospels we find Antiphon 5 that says:
"The disciple agrees upon the price of the Master. He sells the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. With a treacherous kiss he betrays Him to death at the hands of lawless men." What exactly is this expression pointing towards?
We must study the things that the Sanhedrin DID in bringing our Lord to trial, and what these things mean with respect to our 'charge' of being this lawless assembly. It's not pretty - bear with us.
Unlawful Act 1: No person had formally accused Jesus of anything! Rather, He was arrested at the discretion/command of religious leaders who hated Him. The chief priests solicited testimony to put Him to death, but found none (Mark 14:53-55).
Unlawful Act 2: Based on Jewish law, there had to be at least two (2) people charging a person with a crime (Deut 19:15). Jesus was arrested before anyone made such a complaint.
Unlawful Act 3: An 'accomplice' was used to arrest Him. If Jesus was a criminal, then all of His disciples (including Judas) could be considered accomplices to His illegal activities. Jewish law prohibits the use of an accomplice to convict a person.
Unlawful Act 4: Jewish law requires investigation by the court to determine the merits of any accusations (Deut 19:16-18). In Jewish practice, there were no 'prosecutors'. Those who brought a charge against someone argued their case and were effectively the prosecutors. Witnesses had to observe the crime to be found to be credible. None of this was true for Jesus before the Sanhedrin.
Unlawful Act 5: Jewish law forbade holding any trial at night. Jesus was brought before the high priest at roughly 2AM.
Unlawful Act 6: Jewish law forbade any trial to be held before the morning sacrifice at the Temple.
Unlawful Act 7: Jewish law forbade holding any trial on the day before a Holy Day.
Unlawful Act 8: Jewish law required that for any trial involving the death penalty, the proceedings MUST continue over the course of two days.
Unlawful Act 9: Any who might have stood for acquittal of the Lord were not notified of 'the trial' - it was rushed to completion before any reasoned members of the Sanhedrin were called to participate.
Unlawful Act 10: The Ninth Commandment - "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." The Sanhedrin attempted to coerce such testimony. "Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none." (Mat 26:60) The penalty in any trial for bearing false witness was that judges finding such testimony should assign to the false witness the sentence sought against the accused. Thus, false witnesses against Christ should have been subjected themselves to the death penalty.
Unlawful Act 11: Jewish law prohibits the use of the accused's own testimony to condemn Him. The high priest's question, "I put You under oath by the Living God: tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God." The Lord's answer, "I am," by law could not be used against Him.
Unlawful Act 12: One cannot be convicted of a charge that is untrue. The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of blasphemy for declaring that He is the Son of God. For this He was condemned by them to death. But He IS the Son of God.
Unlawful Act 13: Jewish law required at least one advocate/defender for the accused. Therefore at least one vote from the Sanhedrin for acquittal was REQUIRED. "And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death." (Mark 14:63-64) A unanimous vote makes the verdict invalid.
Unlawful Act 14: The sentencing was held at the high priest's house (Mark 14:53). The only legal place to pronounce a death sentence was in "the chamber of hewn stones" at the Temple in Jerusalem.
Unlawful Act 15: The charges were changed after the trial. The original charge was blasphemy. The Jews knew that Pilate would not sentence to death someone on such a charge. So they changed the charge against Him to treason, "forbidding the Jews to pay taxes," and "He has made Himself a king."
There certainly are more, such as Pilate declaring Jesus to be "not guilty" while still allowing His execution! But the above is quite a list. And against all of this treachery, the Lord shows us His humility by saying so very few words, and never one in defense of Himself.
Such is the God we serve. Such is the God Who chose to take on our flesh, to live among us, to heal so very many, to forgive sins, to teach us the path to salvation, to suffer His Passion and die on the Cross to save us from our sins.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory to Your Passion, O Lord!